Antoine’s: elegant Cajun dining honors African excellence

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Antoine’s Creole Maison Restaurant located at 2819 Hennepin Avenue South in Minneapolis serves an “authentic home-style Louisiana French Creole cuisine.” Unlike many other restaurants in the Twin Cities, Antoine’s sets the stage for Southern cooking, spearheaded by Diane Deverges-Ruona, an African American woman who uses the spirit of legacy and tradition as the inspiration for her business.

What separates this business from previous and contemporary restaurants that have plummeted into nonexistence is Antoine’s keen sense of history of the food it serves and the culture it derives from. At the beginning of every menu, Ruona tells a story entitled, “A short history about my family.” The history of the Creole people, French-speaking Black people, is unique and many times misunderstood. Ruona clarifies some of that speculation by simply telling about her own experiences.

“We are descendants of African slaves,” she writes, “After being taken from Africa and sold into slavery, the Creoles were brought to the many islands in the Caribbean to work the sugar cane and other ground produce fields. Many of the slaves either escaped or were brought to America to be indentured slaves.”

She continues, “my Creole French-speaking ancestors settled in Lafayette, Louisiana. Many of them were befriended by Native Americans like the Choctaw and even married into the different tribes. My entire family picked cotton from sun-up to sun down.”

Ruona finishes her story by emphasizing how she developed her life’s passion: “Everyone cooked in my home. They were all great cooks, especially my dad, Albert . . . he was the best. And, goodness, did we enjoy eating the great food that we now provide for you.”

Items featured on the menu include: Filet Gumbo with Smoked Sausage, Baby Shrimp, Chicken, Spicy Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya, Catfish, Poboys, Shrimp Creole, Chaisson Catfish Fingers, and Plantation-Style Pan-Fried Yams. Delectable desserts include secret recipe home made bread pudding. You won’t find any this tasty anywhere in Minnesota. Also, sweet potato, apple and pecan pie served straight or a la mode. You won’t miss with either.

Antoine’s serves something else that has your heart singing. The house music system features Creole and Cajun music. The music eloquently surrounds the white linen table settings, comfortable cushioned chairs and Black art adorned walls with a vibrancy that is immediate and elegant, yet summoning of the dignity, pride, purpose and resilience of those who endured and triumphed over slavery.

Hours: M-F Lunch 11am-2:30pm; Dinner 4-10pm. Sat 10am-1pm Brunch; 1-10pm Dinner; Sunday Noon -10pm. For information call 612-871-2262.

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